Members of the Class of 2017 student senate wait with the envelopes containing their post-graduation residency assignment. (More photos are available here).
Friday's Match Day celebration for the Wayne State University School of Medicine Class of 2017, held in the MGM Grand Detroit ballroom, marked the arduous work of at least the last four years, resulting in a 97.3 percent residency match rate for the Class of 2017.
WSU's rate surpasses this year's national match rate of 94.3 percent for allopathic students, in a year that saw 35,969 United States and international medical school students and graduates vie for 31,757 available positions, the most ever offered in the Match. In addition, 43,157 individuals registered as Match applicants this year.
Twenty years ago, Abraham Arhin, one of WSU's match participants this year, was a 16-year-old undocumented immigrant with dreams of being a doctor even before his family found out their hometown of Bo, Sierra Leone, had been destroyed by civil war while visiting Maryland for a family wedding.
"We couldn't go back. We lost everything," he said.
Now, he is a 36-year-old married father of two granted amnesty in a 2002 visa lottery who will earn his medical degree from the Wayne State University School of Medicine in June and start his Internal Medicine/Pediatrics residency a month later, in a program sponsored by the Wayne State University School of Medicine.
"We waited a long time for this, and we're happy," he shared, his one-year-old daughter Nadia napping on his shoulder. "It feels great. I love the patients. I love the city. I'm glad I'm staying here."
The Match Day event for the Class of 2017 mirrored events held at medical schools throughout the country, and follows the protocol of the National Resident Matching Program, a private non-profit corporation established in 1952 to provide a uniform date of appointment to positions of graduate medical education in the United States. Students were informed via email March 13 whether they matched with one of their preferred residencies following interviews that began in late 2016. The physicians-in-training will receive their medical degrees in June, and start residencies in July throughout the United States.
"You will have received your match in perhaps the most competitive match in history," said Vice Dean for Medical Education Richard Baker, M.D., addressing the students. "This day is really why you came here. It will mark the first day of the rest of your life as the physician you will be. It will be our privilege to call you colleagues."
In Detroit, more than 800 students, faculty, staff and family counted down the seconds before their sons, daughters, wives, husbands and siblings opened envelopes containing their residency assignment. Minutes before the countdown to noon, envelopes were placed in the hands of the 267 senior student match participants in the Class of 2017, waiting somewhat patiently as part of the 19,030 allopathic (M.D.) medical school seniors across the United States.
"Today is destiny day," said Dean Jack D. Sobel, M.D. "Wherever you go, you will excel. You are more than just competent."
A hefty 55 percent of WSU's Class of 2017, or 161 students, are staying in Michigan. The increase is great news for a state with a projected physician shortage, as studies show that residents who train in Michigan often remain here for the majority of their careers.
Another 39.7 percent will enter primary care residencies, including Family Medicine, Internal Medicine and Internal Medicine/Pediatrics specialties.
Forty-nine students matched with their soon-to-be alma mater, with eight earning residencies in the programs solely-sponsored by the WSU School of Medicine, and 45 spots in programs co-sponsored by the School of Medicine and the Detroit Medical Center. Thirty-seven students matched to residencies with Henry Ford Health System, 11 to the University of Michigan Health System and 12 to William Beaumont Hospital. WSU students are also headed to Michigan-based programs at St. John Hospital and Oakwood Hospitals, and programs in Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Flint, Lansing, Marquette, Mount Pleasant and elsewhere.
Students moving out of state will practice medicine in 31 states, at 79 different hospitals, universities and medical centers, including Yale University's New Haven Hospital, Stanford University, Temple University Hospital in Pennsylvania, La Crosse Mayo Clinic in Wisconsin, Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, Cedars Sinai in California, Hofstra School of Medicine in New York, University of California locations in Davis, Irvine and San Diego, University of Chicago Medical Center and more.
Leann Arcori and boyfriend Matt Madion, who met in their first year of medical school, participated in the NRMP's couples match program, of which 95.4 percent of participants matched. They are moving to Milwaukee, but both hope to return to Detroit in the future. She will enter a Pediatrics residency and he will enter a General Surgery residency, at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
"Today is the culmination of medical school, which feels very real," Arcori said.
Internal Medicine residencies were the most popular clinical discipline at WSU this year, with 49 students entering the specialty. Another 36 students will enter an Emergency Medicine program, 28 will enter Family Medicine and 20 will enter Pediatrics. Nineteen students will participate in a transitional year before beginning their specialty training.
Before the matches were revealed, several awards honoring students and faculty were announced. The awards list included:
Medical Alumni Senior Scholarship Award: Shruti Agrawal and Chloe Bass
Herbert Mendelson Enthusiasm for Medicine Endowed Scholarship: Abraham Arhin
Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award (Faculty): Barbara Bosch, M.D.
Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award (Student): Esther Chae
Voluntary Faculty Awards: Scott Yaekle, M.D.
Distinguished Service Awards: Andrea Parker, Esther Chae, Abigail Entz, Sabrina Lin, Samantha Kaufman, Daniel Warren, Chaun-Xing Ho
Class Marshal: Barbara Bosch, M.D.
Penfil-Tischler Award: Leann Arcori